In 1997, when Dutch football manager Louis van Gaal took over at Barcelona, he inherited a coach from the Bobby Robson era. His name was José Mourinho. The 58-year-old van Gaal was far from imagining that this would be the man standing between him and European glory, 13 years later.
On the May 22, in Madrid, FC Bayern Munich and Internazionale will face each other to claim the UEFA Champions League trophy. The two managers will be trying to gain a place in history; the winner will be the third manager ever to win the Champions League with two different teams. Van Gaal achieved it the first time with Ajax in 1995, while Mourinho led FC Porto to victory in 2004.
FC Bayern, who were crowned this year’s German champions, eliminated Fiorentina, Manchester United, and Olympique Lyonnais to book a place in the final, while the Italian side beat Chelsea, CSKA Moscow, and defending champions FC Barcelona to be able to discuss the title.
Van Gaal and Mourinho worked together for three years in Barcelona, winning two Spanish Leagues, a Spanish Cup, and the 1997 European Super Cup. After van Gaal’s departure in 2000 to coach the Dutch national team, Mourinho began his career as a manager of Portuguese side SL Benfica. Having learned the psychology of football from Bobby Robson, Mourinho indicates van Gaal as the man who taught him the coaching and training aspects of the game.
Mourinho eliminated FC Bayern with Chelsea in the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League quarterfinals. The time has come to see if the pupil has got what it takes to beat the master.